If we want to get and stay healthy then we have to find ways to make the experience enjoyable and fun. Knowing what we “should” do usually isn’t enough to create and sustain radical action. Instead, we have to focus on our personal interests, attitudes, and values in order to create our own unique path to health.
Last Sunday I had the privilege of running the tenth annual Disney World Marathon in Orlando, Florida. The course winds it way through most of the Disney theme parks, resorts, and attractions including Epcot, Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, and MGM Studios. Along the way we saw just about every Disney character imaginable, enjoyed fireworks and music, and benefited from a well-run race with plenty of volunteers, spectators, and portable toilets. Combined with the wonderful weather for running, it was easy to have a great time.
I mention this because my finish time was not a particularly great time. It was, indeed, one of my slower races in recent years. Perhaps the early start time (we had to be up at 2:00 AM) or the fact that I had just spent 3 days “doing Orlando” with my family or a recent but minor foot injury all conspired to undercut my endurance.
Even though my finish time was not a great time, I nevertheless had a great time from start to finish. And this Provision is all about that distinction. Once you get that distinction, once you figure out how to enjoy the experience regardless of the outcome, you will have no trouble creating and sustaining the conditions that make for health. Until you figure that out, it will always be a struggle.
This truth came home to me later in the day while chatting online with my daughter. “I’m proud of you for keeping up with your running,” she wrote, as though it represented a great sacrifice, commitment, and accomplishment. All I could think of was how much fun I’d had, how good it makes me feel, and how running connects me to life. I thought about the health benefits of running, about the before and after in terms of my weight and my cardiovascular health, and I quipped back that the pleasure was all mine.
It’s hard to say exactly how I developed this attitude and perspective, but it clearly holds the secret to sustained health and happiness. Through willpower, most people can do just about anything for limited periods. We can, for example, cut back on calories, force ourselves to exercise, bite our tongues, and read self-improvement books in order to lose weight, get in shape, keep the peace, and learn new strategies for life. But if these activities stem solely from willpower, they may never surface in the first place and, when they do surface, they won’t last long.
More than one person has contacted LifeTrek for coaching because they can’t seem to motivate themselves to get going or to keep going. They know what they “should” do, but it looks too difficult • taking too much time, energy, or discipline. Some contact us who have never managed to get with the program. Others do so when they fall off the wagon, after having accomplished a particularly challenging personal goal. They want to learn not only how to get back on track, but how to stay on track for life.
When we work with people around issues related to motivation, the first step is to throw out the word “should.” “Should” fails to motivate, unless it comes from the other end of a gun. With enough force, “should” can make a person do just about anything. Once the force lets up or disappears, however, so does the motivation.
Instead of “should,” we like to focus on “interest” and “desire.” If we can find something interesting and desirable, it’s usually possible to overcome just about any amount of inertia. “Interest” and “desire” have the ability, per Newton’s first law of motion, to move an object at rest and to change the course of an object in motion. Whether you’re standing still or heading in the wrong direction, “interest” and “desire” hold the key to making things right.
What’s interesting to you? What’s your heart’s desire? One of the assessment tools that we use to assist people to get at these fundamental questions, the PIAV, employs six broad categories of interest derived from the studies of human typology by Eduard Spranger and others in the early part of the twentieth century.
— Social: These people love people. They are most interested in doing things that connect them with others, whether as friends or in some form of service.
— Individualistic: These people love power. They are most interested in doing things that set them apart, especially as leaders and decision-makers.
— Traditional: These people love principles. They are most interested in doing things by the book, which may be either a religious or a secular system for living.
— Theoretical: These people love philosophy. They are most interested in doing things that contribute to their intellectual knowledge base and pursuit of truth.
— Utilitarian: These people love productivity. They are most interested in doing things that work, often to procure money, security, and success.
— Aesthetic: These people love proportion. They are most interested in doing things that inspire a sense of beauty, form, and harmony.
Do you see yourself in one or more of these categories of interest? If so, you may have discovered the key to creating and sustaining health. For the social person the key may be finding the right partners and groups. For the individualistic person the key may be finding a way to excel. For the traditional person the key may be finding a proven practice by which to live. For the theoretical person the key may be finding the latest research in the field. For the utilitarian person the key may be finding a way to measure and document the results. For the aesthetic person the key may be finding the right setting or sequence.
Any one of these keys, as well as any combination, has the power to get you going and to keep you going. Once you recognize what makes you tick and turns you on, it becomes much easier to set things up for success. Of course, you may have to take radical action in order to make it so, but the action itself becomes easier when you understand what you’re doing.
If you’re a social person, then you may need to change or realign your relationships if you want to live a healthier life. If you’re an individualistic person, then you may need to get out of the things at which you are good but not great. If you’re an aesthetic person, then you may need to redo your surroundings or even move to a new location before you’ll find the motivation to live healthy.
These are just three of the many radical actions that become possible when we give our interests and desire the room they deserve. Living from the place of “should” may seem like the noble and right thing to do. But it’s usually counterproductive and inhibiting. People go through their entire lives with the sense of having never measured up and really lived. No wonder we end up with so many health problems!
The only way to turn this around is to get happy; and the only way to get happy is to do the things we truly value. Running marathons may not be for you. It is for me. And I’ve learned how to have a great time even when I don’t have a great time. The secret is in the journey and doing the things we love. What do you love? Your body knows the answer; all you have to do is recognize the signs.
To reply to this Provision, use our Feedback Form. To talk with us about coaching or consulting services for yourself or your organization, Email Us or use our Contact Form on the Web for a complimentary coaching session.
LifeTrek Readers’ Forum (selected feedback from the past week)
Editor’s Note: The LifeTrek Readers’ Forum contains selections from the comments and materials sent in each week by the readers of LifeTrek Provisions. They do not necessarily reflect the perspective of LifeTrek Coaching International. To submit your comment, use our Feedback Formor Email Bob.
Today’s message caught my eye • my favorite book of all time was A Man’s Search for Meaning, by Viktor Frankl. Thanks for exposing him to more folks. (Ed. Note: Readers may want to scroll down to the bookstore section below to order a copy.)
I enjoy reading Provisions every Sunday. If you haven’t already read it, you would enjoy the new biography of Viktor Frankl written by Haddon Klingberg, Jr. titled “When Life Calls Out to Us.” (Ed. Note: I was not familiar with this book. Thanks for the referral. Readers can scroll down to the bookstore section of this Provision for a link to purchase the book through Amazon.)
Hope your year is off to a good start. I have enjoyed reading your material. You make some very good points. In terms of economic and physical health, I saw a quote that is very true: “What you do when you don’t have to will determine what you will be when you can’t help it.”
Great article on Benjamin Franklin • truly a remarkable individual
I am struck by the quality and reality of your coaching series. I am 75 and am enjoying life and will not retire. I enjoy sharing with anyone that wants to honestly apply positive thinking and a special relationship with Jesus Christ for a healthy, happy, satisfying way thru life.
I unsubscribed from your mailing list because your indispensable information has transformed me into a different, better-grown individual on this planet earth. I don’t have to mention further about your site’s vital contributions for they are already implied. Please continue your generosity services to uplift and rebuild the many people’s point of view in their lives. Thank you for everything and I promise that I will never forget that once I’ve been a member of your program and I’m very proud of it. I have a mission to fulfill… and that is…same with yours. Let’s go for it!
May you be filled with goodness, peace, and joy.
Bob Tschannen-Moran, MCC, BCC
President, LifeTrek Coaching International, www.LifeTrekCoaching.com
CEO & Co-Founder, Center for School Transformation, www.SchoolTransformation.com
Immediate Past President, International Association of Coaching, www.CertifiedCoach.org
Author, Evocative Coaching: Transforming Schools One Conversation at a Time, Online Retailers
Address: 121 Will Scarlet Lane, Williamsburg, VA 23185-5043
Phone: (757) 345-3452 • Fax: (772) 382-3258
Skype: LifeTrek • Twitter: @LifeTrekBob
Subscribe/Unsubscribe: Subscriber Services